Hello, Alamogordo! I’m veterinarian Dr. Katie Lambden of Paw in Hand Veterinary Care. Welcome to Vet Minute.

Today’s topic is vaccination and why it is so important for your pets. We unfortunately see a fair amount of infectious disease including parvovirus and distemper. Parvo, especially, can survive for months or even years in the environment, and is impossible to eradicate from dirt or grass. That means that your new puppy or unvaccinated older dog is at risk of picking up the deadly infection from the park, the street, or even your back yard. Parvo causes severe vomiting, diarrhea, and often death without treatment. Vaccines work by teaching the immune system to recognize the virus so that if it comes in contact with the real virus, it can destroy it before it makes your dog sick. Why do vets recommend repeating the vaccines so many times in young puppies? Their immune systems, like human babies’, are immature and need several boosters to “remember” the virus. While a puppy is undergoing its “puppy shots,” it is still potentially at risk for catching the virus, so I recommend steering clear of dog parks or anywhere a lot of dogs have been. Puppies should be vaccinated every 3-4 weeks from around 8 weeks of age until 14 or 16 weeks of age. The rabies vaccine is another important vaccination and is required by law. Because of the importance to public health, it can only be given by a veterinarian when an animal is 12 weeks of age or older. Rabies vaccination is required for all cats and dogs, even indoor only animals. Most vaccines must be repeated in adult animals to ensure continued immunity. Many vaccines are available in versions which last for 3 years instead of 1 year. Call and ask us about recommended vaccination schedules today! Another important note is that vaccines, especially modified live ones, are very sensitive to temperature and to remain effective must be kept cold and mixed just before administering. If you choose to purchase feed store vaccines, please be very careful to make sure they are handled correctly, or they may not be effective.

This “Vet Minute” brought to you by Dr. Katie Lambden of Paw in Hand Veterinary Care on Cuba Avenue in Alamogordo, and KHII. Submit your questions for consideration on upcoming shows by visiting our website at pawinhandvet.com or calling us at 434-4343.